The Fasig-Tipton Texas yearling auction ended its two-day run Tuesday at Lone Star Park with increases in its gross revenue, average price, and median price even though it sold fewer horses than a year ago. Contributing to the upswings were a Pleasant Tap colt that brought $330,000, the highest price ever for a yearling sold by Fasig-Tipton in Texas, and buyer enthusiasm generated by slots-enhanced purses in nearby Louisiana.
"It was a good sale," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's chief operating officer and executive vice president. "The three top-priced horses were all Louisiana-breds, so clearly this has evolved and has continued to evolve into a regional marketplace, not just a Texas sale. There is an extremely strong purse structure in Louisiana, and a good thing to have today is a Louisiana bred."
Another factor in the auction's increases, according to Browning is that yearling-to-juvenile pinhookers, whose profits fell earlier this year, are searching harder for bargains.
"Pinhookers are looking at more and more sales," he explained, "and they are going back to some of their roots. They're shopping at a few more price levels and, as a result, we had good pinhooker participation from Ocala (Fla.) at this sale."
Fasig-Tipton officials reported that 241 yearlings were sold for a gross of $3,283,200. The average was $13,623, and the median was $6,200. Compared to last year's results, the number sold was down 11.4% from 272, but the gross was up 1.7% from $3,228,900. The average grew 14.8% from $11,871. And the median climbed 12.7% from $5,500.
The buy-back rate rose from 33.0% last year to 36.9% this year.
Florida pinhookers Robert and Mary Harris, as agents, purchased the $330,000 Pleasant Tap colt. The previous Fasig-Tipton Texas yearling sale record was the $150,000 brought by Driving Hennesy, a colt by Hennessy, in 2000.
"We just really liked him," Robert Harris said. "He has the whole package. He's a big, strong colt with a lot of muscle. He has a real good way of moving and walking, and his sire has done well as a stallion. It's not that he wasn't expensive, but even with the Keeneland September sale coming up, we didn’t know how many more shots we would get to buy a horse of his quality at that price."
Harris added that the dark bay or brown colt reminded him and his wife of this year's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Tiago, a Pleasant Tap colt that the Harrises prepared for racing. They also worked with Tiago's half-brother, 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacamo, when he was a young horse.
"We'll resell him as a 2-year-old," said Harris of the $330,000 yearling.
The sturdy colt is out of the 16-year-old Distinctive Pro mare Tensie's Pro, who captured the 1994 Sagamore Hill Stakes at Saratoga and finished second or third in four other added-money events that year. He is a half-brother to five winners, including E Z's Gentleman, who broke his maiden at six furlongs on Aug. 19. E Z's Gentleman defeated Colonel John by a half-length at Del Mar. Other members of the $330,000 yearling's family include grade I winners Miss Oceana and Film Maker and French group I winner Kitwood.
Tommy Eastham and Mark Toothaker's Legacy Bloodstock consigned the sale-topping colt. Randel Stutes and Glen Gilbert are his breeders.
“He was good horse; he did everything we asked him to do," Eastham said. "He was a real solid horse for us. He was popular coming into the sale. He had a lot balance and a lot of class. He just stood out. Being a Louisiana-bred sure made him more attractive, but the physical and his class are what got that price. Louisiana-breds are very popular now with the program they have going on (in the state)."
The results for the second session only were 138 yearlings sold, a gross of $1,664,100, an average of $12,059, and a median of $5,600. All those numbers were up from last year's comparable session when the 134 horses sold grossed $1,564,800 and averaged $11,678. The median was $5,500.
The buy-back rate increased from 32.7% last year to 33.3% this year.
Two other horses sold Tuesday for six-figure amounts and were the auction's second- and third-highest-priced yearlings. An Even the Score -- Willailla colt went to California storage mogul B. Wayne Hughes for $145,000. Inside Move, agent, consigned the yearling. An Indian Charlie -- Ballagren colt brought $130,000 from Richard and Karen Papiese. Elysian Bloodstock, agent for Green Jean Farm, was the yearling's consignor.
The sale's most expensive filly, a $77,000 daughter of Rainmaker out of the Tabasco Cat mare Namora, was sold by JLC Horses to Leprechaun Racing, agent, on Monday.
The Texas Thoroughbred Association sponsored the auction.
Ron Mitchell contributed to this story.